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Critical Software – Dependable Technologies for Critical Systems

Working in the Space and Earth Observation fields, Critical Software is, and has been, involved in several R&D and operational projects with the aim to deliver innovative Earth Observation products and services to specific user communities. The company has a proven experience in delivering highly dependable mission oriented critical solutions, services and technologies, and has established itself as a reliable and proactive partner for customers, such as ESA, NASA, JAXA, EADS Astrium, Thales Alenia Space, DNV, ScySis, Vega among many others.

Customers trust Critical Software to bring quality and innovation to information systems in a timely and cost effective manner, while developing solutions that simply must not fail. The experience acquired in international consortia with prime contractors has paved the way for Critical Software to provide services ranging from engineering processes definition, solution design and support for the development and integration of Safety Critical Sub-Systems and interfaces, to the development and deployment of best-of-breed software certifiable services and solutions or COTS based systems.

Critical Software’s activities span from the space segment to downstream services, including Earth Observation, Telecommunications and Navigation, such as, flight qualified software, quality & product assurance, operational simulators, data processing and visualization tools, ISVV and RAMS, whilst using best available technologies and modelling methodologies.

Critical Software operates an ISO9001:2000 Tick-IT and CMMI SW/SE Level 5 accredited quality system and applies the ISO/IEC 15504 standard in the area of software process assessment (whose deployment was supported and monitored by the European Space Agency).

Some examples of projects in which Critical Software is or has been involved in the Earth Observation area are:

Premfire – Fire Combat Management and Control System

Critical Software has developed PREMFIRE, whose main objective was to implement a system for fire risk assessment that could easily be used by the civil protection staff or other fire prevention service. PREMFIRE extends the existing RISE system, adding wireless palmtop terminals providing real or near-real time exchange of data with field staff. Relatively static information such as topography, fire history and land use were integrated with meteorological conditions and Earth Observation data from MODIS, ERS, SPOT and Landsat. The possibility of including positional data from EGNOS/Galileo is designed in. Fire risk maps are generated and also automatic alarms when necessary to alert local fire fighting units.

SAFER – Services and Applications for Emergency Response

SAFER aimed at preparing the operational implementation of the Emergency Response Core Service (ERCS). In the scope of SAFER, Critical Software implemented and operated a service chain, allowing the provision of the automatic burn scar mapping service to several Portuguese and Greek authorities.

SMOS – L1PP (SMOS Level 1 Processor Prototype – Up to Phase 5)

Critical Software is involved in the development and maintenance of the SMOS “Level 1 Processor Prototype” (L1PP) ( The objective of the L1PP project is to define the Algorithms Theoretical Baseline and the Detailed Processing Models for the SMOS L1 processing and to implement these algorithms in a prototype that is used as a baseline for the validation of the SMOS L1 Operational Processor and to assess the MIRAS instrument end-to-end performance.

Vessel-X – Maritime Traffic Monitoring with TerraSAR-X images

In the scope of this project, fully developed by Critical Software, a prototype allowing the detection and the classification of vessels was designed and implemented. In order to develop this prototype, several algorithms had to be developed, using radar images obtained by sensors on board of commercial satellites, allowing, for the first time, not only the vessel detection, but also its classification fully supported by satellite imagery.

PREVIEW – Geo-information services for risk management on a European Level

PREVIEW aimed to provide new or enhanced information services for risk management in three thematic domains: Atmospheric, Geophysics and Man-made. Supporting European Civil Protection units (local, regional, national and European authorities) PREVIEW was supported by the most advanced research and technological developments using satellite observation in combination with other data and scientific models that helped better prevent, anticipate and/or manage different types of disasters. In the scope of PREVIEW, Critical Software acted as service provider in Portugal, delivering and validating all forest fire related services.

RBSM – Rapid Burn Scar Mapping

Rapid Burn Scar Mapping, fully developed by Critical Software, aimed to develop a service for the provision of automatic medium-resolution burn scars mapping to the Forest Resources Directorate of the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture. The burn scar maps are based on medium resolution EO data from the sensors AQUA-TERRA/MODIS distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey.

This completely automatic methodology combines EO data with land-cover information to produce daily burn scars maps with a minimum mapping unit of 48 hectares. Data can be exported to various raster and vector formats and can be easily visualized in applications like Google Earth and integrated in other information systems.

This information is very valuable for the daily estimation of the damage caused by forest fires at a national and regional level. The processing chain does not require any interaction with human operators or image interpretation experts. The maps provide an objective assessment of the situation on the ground, even in remote locations. This product represents a very useful complement to the reports of the fire fighters and civil protection authorities who deals with hundreds of fire events at the same time.

Near Operational Demonstration of the use of Satellite Systems for Fire Risk Management

Near Operational Demonstration project was integrated in ESA’s FUEGOSAT Programme, aiming at to demonstrate services based in earth observing data, in order to manage emergencies located in various countries of Southern Europe. This programme was established to meet today’s growing need for forest fire management, thus many services based in satellite data were developed, namely: Prevention, Detection, Fighting and Assessing Damages.

Critical Software, working in partnership with INSA, carried out the development of this project in Portugal. In the frame of this project, many forest fire products were provided through a precursor decision support system to determine fire risk, ignition detection, fires monitoring, damage assessment, among many other products.